October 1718, Westminster, England.

August 29, 1782, Spithead (near Portsmouth), England. He and hundreds of sailors drowned when their ship, the Royal George, sank while undergoing repairs. William Cowper immortalized the accident in his poem On the Loss of the Royal George.

Westminster Abbey, London, England.



Of Swedish descent, Kempenfelt was commissioned a lieutenant in the British Royal Navy in January 1741. He became a captain in 1757, and admiral in 1780. He admired Whitefield and the Wesleys, and took a great interest in evangelism. His hymns were published in Original Hymns and Poems. By Philotheorus (Exeter, England: B. Thorn, 1777).

According to Town and Country magazine, Volume 14, 1782, the Royal George could not be raised, so Kempenfelt’s body was not recovered. However, his brother later funded a monument to him in Westminster Abbey, London. Its inscription reads:

In memory of Richard Kempenfelt Esqr. Rear Admiral of the Blue who was lost in His Majesty’s ship Royal George which overset and sunk at Spithead on the 29th of August 1782; by which fatal event about nine hundred persons were launched into eternity: and his King and country deprived of the services of a great and meritorious officer in the 64th year of his age. This monument was erected pursuant to the will of his brother, Gustavus Adolphus Kempenfelt Esqr, who died at his seat, Lady Place, Hurley, Berkshire, on the 14th March 1808 aged 87; of whose philanthropy and humanity his liberal subscriptions and bequests to most of the charitable institutions in this country will be lasting records.

  1. Bear Me on Thy Rapid Wing
  2. Burst, Ye Emerald Gates (refrain grafted to The Great Physician)
  3. Gentle Spirit, Waft Me Over
  4. Hail, Thou Eternal Logos, Hail
  5. Hark, ’Tis the Trump of God
  6. O My Redeemer, Come